Student Advisory Council meets to craft recommendations for UT System Board of Regents

Laura Morales

The Student Advisory Council to the UT System met this weekend to discuss supportive resources for sexual assault victims, international students and “at-risk” students across their campuses.

The student representatives from the 14 UT System schools will present policy recommendations in November for the board of regents based on their deliberations and reports. The council has committees focused on academic success, career advising, affordability and campus wellness.

UT Senate President Elena Ivanova and student body president Camron Goodman represent UT-Austin on the council. Ivanova, who chairs the campus wellness committee, said she wanted to focus on existing mental health, academic and advising resources for victims of sexual assault and misconduct.

“There are a lot of resources on our campus, specifically with mental health and campus groups, that are working to prevent sexual misconduct and help the victims,” public health and Plan II senior Ivanova said. “We are going to be working directly with them and getting feedback from them to craft solutions that can be put in place on other campuses.”

Goodman, who leads the academic success committee, said he is reviewing the academic advising resources available to traditional, nontraditional and first generational students. The committee is also seeking to define the term “nontraditional,” which includes military veteran, parents, international, nondocumented and transfer students.

Goodman is also a member of the affordability committee, and he said there is a lack of transparency and student representation on tuition review boards at UT-Austin.

“I looked online to see if we had any detailed descriptions of what we are paying for in our tuition and fees, and there is not,” finance senior Goodman said. “We don’t have any public forum, discussions or modes of communications for our students about where their money is going.”

International students with an F-1 visa sometimes look for curricular practical training, which allows international students to find paid or unpaid work off campus. Members of the affordability committee said these students need more financial assistance. 

Goodman said he plans to work with the international student office to review how this is impacting UT-Austin F-1 students.

“It is important to see if this is something that they do struggle with,” Goodman said. “Some institutions, like UTD, their one-credit-hour class is about $4,400. They are basically doing these internships that could be unpaid while paying a tuition for them.”

The career advising committee is chaired by UT Medical Branch at Galveston representative Xavier Rice. The committee found a lack of career advising and mentorship programs targeted toward minority and low-income students within some schools in the UT System.

Rice said the committee is reviewing the metrics universities use to measure the success of their students, such as rates of employment and starting salaries of the university’s graduates. The committee was tasked to focus on defining what an “at-risk’ student is and what advising programs are available to “at-risk” students at their respective universities.

“When we identify these  students, we can set (up) the advising and mentorship that can help those students prevent some of the mishaps that happen in their academic careers,” Rice said. “Theses programs can push them forward to be as competitive as the people who don’t have the same disadvantages.”